Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Wings of the North celebrates 20th Annual AirExpo


August 1, 2017

C.M. Swanson

Bill Jensen

The theme of this year's Wings of the North AirExpo held at Flying Cloud Airport July 15-16 was Heroes & Legends. An Evening with Eagles Dinner and Symposium was held at the Wings of the North Air Museum Hangar featuring guest speaker NASA Astronaut Franklin Musgrave who flew on six spaceflights.

Among the variety of aircraft on display Saturday and Sunday at the airport grounds were military aircraft like Marine CH53 Phoenix helicopters and F-4 Phantoms. There were vintage aircraft owned by the Wings of the North Museum like the P-51 Mustang Sierra Sue II and the F4U Corsair, as well as a nice array of privately owned aircraft. Fly-bys were frequent and impressive.

Event attendees included Eden Prairie resident Dave Huibregste who was a flight mechanic in the Air Force Reserve for eight and a half years. He and his son, Paul and granddaughter, Melanie toured the AirExpo grounds together. Though he never learned to fly until he got out of the Reserve, Dave got his pilot license and certifications afterwards, then put in 27 years flying for a major airline in Minnesota.  

The Air Expo commonly draws families like Casey and Gina Garven, Hayley and Jack, their children, and grandparents Todd and Linda Johnson. The Johnson family enjoyed a day of adventure with grandma and grandpa at the AirExpo. For those Minnesota Flyer readers who are also movie fans, take a look at the Johnson family photo., You may recognize Casey from the roles he played in Mighty Ducks 1 and 2, and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Photo courtesy of Grace Miller

Stearman smoke trail

Of course, there were many airplane owners. As a general aviation pilot Bill Jensen purchased and flies a Czech built L-39 Aero Vodochody jet/fighter/trainer he calls Natasha. He was trained by an Air Force F-16 pilot to fly the L-39. Jensen, who is based in Lakeville, spent a good deal of time at the Wings of the North AirExpo at Flying Cloud Airport fielding questions about his aircraft. 

"It's a relatively benign airplane to fly," said Jensen. "It is an Eastern European, light attack aircraft but was primarily a trainer for all the eastern bloc countries, except for Poland. Built in 1985, they are still flying some of them today. It's a great airplane, fun to fly, no bad habits. It's a hoot."

The Wings of the North Hall of Legends Tent provided space for attendees to speak with retired pilots, many of them authors. Rounding out the event were food vendors, a kid's play area, and other outdoor displays, all wrapped up in a weather-perfect package, assuring a great foundation for next year's Wings of the North AirExpo.



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